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ImpactVC platform launched to boost investments into high-impact startups 

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Published: 17 February 2023

Incubated by Big Society Capital, the new community for impact-driven venture capitalists has already attracted over 300 members representing some €13.5bn of assets under management.

Claire Kearney, founding team member, ImpactVC: “ImpactVC’s direction will be very much driven by what the community tell us about their needs.”

ImpactVC, a community for venture capital companies making impact investments, has been launched. The initiative has been incubated by UK financial institution Big Society Capital (BSC) to help facilitate VC flows to impact startups.     

The membership includes UK-based VC firms Balderton, Connect and Northzone, along with impact specialists Eka Ventures and Bethnal Green Ventures. The initial group of members had some £12bn (€13.5bn) of assets under managements. By mid-February, the number of companies signing up for the initiative had reached around 310.  

The community’s objective is to share practical tools and ideas to help VCs back and build high-impact companies. To that end, ImpactVC will organise networking online and in-person events and provide online advice and training materials for both VC firms and potential investee companies. 

“Our experience so far is that people are really engaged in thinking about how ImpactVC can create the forums and the spaces for VCs to be able to come together to network, look at opportunities, and to learn more from each other,” Claire Kearney, BSC’s investment network managing director and a founding team member at ImpactVC, told Impact Investor. 

Over 200 of the current membership are UK-based, reflecting the initiative’s UK origins, with Europe accounting for most of the remainder, but the membership is expected to diversify geographically over coming months.  

“Obviously, many VC firms have a global presence, particularly in Europe. There is a lot of interest in creating European chapters of the community and the idea is that community will grow across Europe,” Kearney said.   

Impact Playbook 

The first online offerings are an “Impact Playbook”, which is designed to help early-stage VCs to focus on impact, and an online training course for VCs – The Fundamentals of Impact.  

The playbook provides guides for making and managing impact investments, covering topics such as assessing return and risk assessments, and information on measurement, evaluation and reporting. 

Kearney said that ImpactVC had an important role in the sector, because, although there were other industry organisations covering responsible investing, their main focus was not on VCs and impact investment.  

“We see ourselves as complementary to groups such as VentureESG and Diversity VC. In fact, we co-hosted our first event with VentureESG. We have different objectives, but the organisations sit well side by side,” she said. 

VC firms had good opportunities to invest in interesting companies focused on impact themes, which also made financial sense for investors, Kearney said, noting that companies in which ImpactVC members had already invested highlighted the possibilities.  

These include Wagestream, a money management app to support frontline workers better cope with the cost-of-living crisis, Open Bionics, which creates devices to help those who need enhanced mobility and independence, and CarbonCure, which makes technology that adds recycled carbon dioxide into fresh concrete to reduce its carbon footprint without compromising performance. 

ImpactVC plans to release a further training course and another playbook later in 2023. Thit playbook will be focused on how start-up founders should think about maximising impact with their businesses. 

“We have our course mapped out for the first 12 months, but in the longer-term, ImpactVC’s direction will be very much driven by what the community tell us about their needs,” says Kearney. 

Sponsorship for ImpactVC has come from the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, NCM Fund Services, Taylor Vinters, Vauban, Katapult Foundation, Morgan Lewis, and Amazon Web Services. 

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